Meaningful “Fasting” During Lent: Here Are Some Great Ideas

Meaningful “Fasting” During Lent: Here Are Some Great Ideas February 14, 2024

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 13. Courtesy of Chase Oaks Church


On Wednesday February 13, Lent begins for Catholics worldwide with Ash Wednesday. Lent is an opportunity to get closer to God and we do this by sacrifice and focusing on our relationship with God during this time. Let’s take a look and see how we can make our sacrifice, and our Lent, more meaningful.

The Basic Pillars of Lent

The three primary pillars of Lent are:

  • Prayer – spending more time in prayer with God
  • Fasting – on Holy Days and abstaining from meat on Fridays
  • Almsgiving – giving to others motivated by love

These three pillars are the foundation for a meaningful Lent as we take our time in the “desert” for 40 Days like Jesus did before His public ministry. During this time Jesus was tempted by the Devil to separate Him from God. It is during Lent that we focus on repentance for our sins and getting closer to God through the three pillars. There are many people who perform additional sacrifices during Lent to get closer to God. The thinking is as we sacrifice during Lent we use the time spent on whatever it is we are “fasting” from, to pray and communicate with God. As kids we would choose something that was important to us like candy or time watching television, but this concept has continued for many Catholics into adulthood. Are there more meaningful ways to spend our time in sacrifice during Lent? Absolutely! Please continue on for a few ideas.

Pope Francis’ “Fasting” Ideas

Pope Francis had suggestions on behaviors to “fast” from during Lent:

  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God.
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

The conscious decision to “fast” from these behaviors will open your heart so God has the opportunity to come in and help make these new behaviors replace the old ones. This brings us closer to God by avoiding the behaviors that cause strife in relationships bringing us further away from God.

Some Additional Items to “Fast” from:

Here are a couple of other options to “fast” from during this sacred time of Lent:

  • Fast from social media – in addition to death and taxes as being the only two “certain” things in life I think it is safe to add finding someone who disagrees with your opinion on social media and wants to argue. There is a meme floating around the internet with a picture of a wife telling her husband to come to bed, and he says he will be up after “correcting” some guy on social media. We have all felt it and there certainly are no lack of opinions. This may end up being a big timesaver for you and give you more opportunity for prayer.
  • Fast from gossip – it amazes me how fast gossip travels the internet, but this can be a killer for personal relationships as well. The general rule of thumb related to gossip is don’t. We do not always know what is true and what isn’t, and if you wouldn’t say this to someone in front of them, then you should never say it behind their back. People’s reputations have been impacted and in some cases ruined because of gossip.
  • Fast from Online shopping – this can be extremely addictive and change our focus from God to money and material things. This is called idolatry. Online businesses have made it extremely easy to purchase products and they track what you buy and what you browse to send ads directly to you while online. This also opens you up to potential cyberattack as not all those pages on the internet are owned by the people you may think owns them.
  • Fast from disorganization – there are people who can thrive in disorganization. I am not one of them and I suspect there are a lot more people like me. For many, disorganization creates stress and this stress will separate us from the Lord. Maybe having some additional time to de-clutter and organize will allow you to have more of a stress-free environment and be more focused on your time with the Lord.

Lent presents us with the opportunity to re-evaluate our relationship with God and subsequently this will change our relationships with others for the better. Instead of focusing on the sacrifice, use this Lent to focus on the additional time with God. I promise you will not regret it.

As always, comments are welcome and encouraged. I will respond as quickly as I can.

God Bless


About Dennis McIntyre
In my early years I was a member of the Methodist church where I was baptized as a child and eventually became a lector for the church. I always felt I was a very faith-filled person, but that something was missing. My wife is Catholic and my children were baptized as Catholic and this helped me to find what I was looking for - to be part of something so much bigger than myself walking together with Jesus. I was welcomed into the Catholic faith and received the sacraments as a full member of the Catholic Church in 2004. I am a Spiritual Director, and very active in ministry serving as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister in addition to providing spiritual direction. I have spent time working with the sick and the terminally ill in local hospitals and Hospice Care centers and found these ministries to be very difficult, but extremely rewarding. You can read more about the author here.
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